Saturday, May 21, 2011

54th Ruskin Twister Anniversary

In all the build up about the world ending, I missed the exact date of a day that many in south Kansas City thought the world really was ending--the May 20, 1957 tornado that hit many spots in the south part of the metro. It's ironic that today, while severe weather warnings are blooming to the north and west of the metro, that we should stop and think about what many call a severe F5 tornado went right through the metro.

The storm went through the Ruskin Heights neighborhood sometime between 7 and 8 pm, perhaps around 7:20 or so. Before that the tornado hit Spring Hill, KS and Martin City.

Whenever I see really bad tornado damage pictures, I think of many of the archived photos I have seen of the Ruskin tornado--trees with their bark peeled off, cars flipped over, houses just piles of sticks. Probably the most impressive is the photo shown on the Kansas City Star's front page--the photo shows the path of the tornado as it made its destructive way from the southwest, moving northeast through the neighborhood of modest single family homes.

Even though the number of people who have first hand experience of this storm gets smaller as the years go by, each year yields a tornadic storm that reminds us all of the power of nature. Photos from top to bottom--the morning Kansas City Times of May 21, 1957, the afternoon Kansas City Star of May 21, 1957 and that week's Jackson County Advocate, May 23, 1957.


Orphan of the Road said...

My cousin and his family were there. They were running for the hs gym when their dog ran away. Frankie ran after the dog.

It led them to a basement in a church. They hurried in as the twister was just touching down.

As they entered the basement, another family came in the door. The father held the hand of his daughter. The twister took her away, leaving the father holding only her arm.

It was hell on earth with people showing up to loot, the Red Cross selling coffee and donuts while the Salvation Army gave them away and people stunned by the force of nature.

Most homes were built without basements to make them more affordable.

The Observer said...

Thanks for the account. While it is rare enough, thank God, we still need to be cautious when bad weather is in the neighborhood. In fact, just last night as that thunderstorm tracked from Lawrence/Topeka, nippled the southwest corner of Olathe...well, let's just say I was watching. By the time it reached south KC it was straight line wind and small hail. (whew!)

Thanks for visiting my little place today.

The Observer

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post of the articles -- I was 5 when the Ruskin F5 blew through; our house was on 108th Street, just about a dozen houses northeast of the utter destruction in the pronounced path of the storm damage in the next block. We had no basement and stood in the center hallway, Mom and Dad's arms around my brother and I, praying out loud. We ended up on the floor from the force, perfectly safe, but the furnace standing 12" behind us in the utility closet had been pulled through the roof. We moved a half block away on 108th Terrace at the corner of Sycamore Park a few years later to a home with a basement.

The Observer said...

I am trying to imagine the furnace being sucked up through the roof...not a pretty image.

I am enjoying the first person accounts even if they are slightly terrifying that are coming in.

I've tried to preplan for a tornado at home--I have to admit, I have included the part where I stand trying to go three directions at once. Should probably include "kiss house good bye" as part of the procedure...

Carol said...

My husband's family lived on Sunny Side Drive. He was about 10 when they experienced this horrible storm!